Math: Still Not Everywhere

It’s been a while since I shared something on this site (I’ve been studying for the past month for two qualifying exams, and that consumed all my time). Here I share an excellent article that introduced me to the idea of the “mathematical elite” as a real, socially relevant, and powerful (politically and otherwise) group.

While you’re there, check out the work of Cathy O’Neil (mathbabe). I ready Weapons of Math Destruction in a day during the spring and found it eye-opening and enthralling. I think anyone who works in quantitatively intense subjects should read that book.

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This is a guest post by Michael J. Barany, a postdoc in History at Dartmouth.

One year ago, I wrote a post for the Scientific American Guest Blog arguing against the widespread truism that mathematics is everywhere. The post laid out the history of mathematics as a special and exclusive kind of knowledge wielded by privileged elites. I claimed that the idea that math is everywhere not only gets the history wrong, but also misrepresents how mathematics matters most in most people’s lives, and may be a misguided premise on which to build a more inclusive and responsible discipline. If we start by recognizing the bias and exclusion that affect who gets to use advanced mathematics to intervene in the world, we might get better at responding to those biases while empowering the vast majority in the mathematical non-elite to hold the mathematical elite accountable for the great power

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Oh, someone, please stop this crazy ride! I wanna get off!!!

As the 2016 election rapidly approaches, as part of my final thoughts on this nightmare, I share with you a blog post by my dad, John Miller, from his blog, A View from the Middle (Class). Dad was once the editor of the Morning News, a local newspaper in Blackfoot, Idaho, and even to this day, his former readers remember him fondly. Dad lost his job as editor and was a computer programmer for most of my life (maybe this explains why I have a skill for coding; I’ve done it off and on since I was maybe 10 years old). He lost his last programming job in 2014 and is now a bus driver for UTA, but he still updates his blog, which he started years ago.

I remember as a kid reading Dad’s old editorials about local happenings in Blackfoot, Idaho, and at one point in time, I couldn’t get enough of his articles; I was even starting to annoy him as I asked for more. Dad’s recent pre-election post sums up my feelings about this election, and I invite you to read it.

You can expect an election recap from me tomorrow at 9:00 AM MST with my own thoughts (and lots of data analysis, too).

A View From The Middle (Class)

You know the feeling, right?  You’re on some crazy carnival ride that’s twisty and turny with lots of ups and downs and loop de loops, putting you upside down and sideways.  The kind of ride where you get so dizzy and disoriented, you just feel a nearly overwhelming need to upchuck.

coasterSometimes you’ll laugh your behind off.  Other times you’re teetering on the edge of being overwhelmed with fear.

The 2016 election’s been a lot like one of those crazy carnival rides.  It’s at least promising to stay that way right up to the time winners are declared on Tuesday night, and the way just the presidential race has gone, the ride might not even stop then.

After all, one orangeish presidential contender even said for the world to see that he’d keep people guessing on whether he’d concede if he didn’t come out ahead.

Oh, someone, please, for the…

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Belief vs. Enlightenment

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This week, I was required to read “What is Enlightenment”, by Immanuel Kant; “Christianity or Europe” and “Faith and Love, or King and Queen”, by Novalis; a selection from A General Theory of Magic by Marcel Mauss; and a selection of Success through Failure, by Henry Petroski (you can find these readings here: http://didascalos.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/readings-week-1-set-2/). The readings were quite interesting. In my study, I noticed a contrast between four of the five selections, those being the selections from Kant, Novalis, and Mauss. I would say that the contrast is between Kant’s “maturity”, and “belief”, exhibited in Novalis’s writings and the belief in magic described by Mauss. Continue reading

Reflection on Memory

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The first readings of the course, selections from Francis Yates’ The Art of Memory, and Mary Caruthers’ The Book of Memory, were interesting reads and an unexpected kick-off to the course. Now, my exposure to the Middle Ages is fairly small, consisting of what I recall from sophomore world history, a couple semesters studying philosophy in my debate class, and my experience in playing a medieval political-simulator video game called Crusader Kings. In addition to my unfamiliarity with the Middle Ages, I’m a transfer student from SLCC, so I have no experience with University of Utah classes in general, Honors classes in particular. So having any expectations really isn’t justified, on my part. Continue reading